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12345 College Blvd
Shawnee Mission, Kansas,66210
With more than 35,000 students enrolled in credit and continuing education classes each semester, Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, is nationally known for excellence in programming and teaching. JCCC offers students a full range of un... more.
OTTUMWA - For 35 years, Connie Griffith was a flight attendant.But when she retired in 2001, a different dream took wing, and she enrolled in art classes with the goal of becoming a full-time artist.This spring, she will graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Kansas City Art Institute."I had always wanted to go to art school," said Griffith, who was born in Ottumwa, "but I grew up at a time when girls were expected to become nurses, secretaries, teachers and, eventually, mothers." As a student at North High School in Des Moines, she received a scholarship to study at the Des Moines Art Center, an experience that gave her "the hunger" to go into art, but instead, her father insisted she study for a teacher's certificate.She spent a semester at Northwest Missouri State Teacher's College before dropping out.She worked at an insurance company and then as a dental assistant until she was 21 - old enough to join Trans World Airlines as a flight attendant.She retired in 2001, one week before American Airlines acquired TWA. In 2002, she became a full-time student at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kan., a suburb of Kansas City.In 2005, she transferred to the Kansas City Art Institute as a full-time student pursuing a BFA degree in ceramics."I felt as if I had been starving for years, and I didn't know what to eat first," she said.She took classes in drawing, sculpture, metalsmithing, silversmithing and ceramics - everything the two-year college offered in art except for painting.At a "First Friday" gallery walk in Kansas City's Crossroads Arts District she met a Kansas City Art Institute representative who encouraged her to apply, and she was able to enroll as a junior.She hopes to open her own studio in the Kansas City area and teach art to underprivileged children.She looks forward to partnering with other artists who are interested in seeking a grant that will allow them to set up a facility and obtain equipment.She has already exhibited her work in about a dozen group and solo shows.can cut here if need"My experience with the airline affected my art," she said."I had opportunities for exposure to so many different cultures."Although her memories include images of poverty and people living in strife, she also recalls the beauty of countries like Portugal, where "people live simply and though not wealthy, are so giving."Twice she went to Honduras with medical teams, using her dental-assistant experience to help provide dental services to hundreds of people.Griffith sees art as an outward expression of internal feelings.She believes art can be a means of self-discovery for both children and adults."Art provides a way for you to learn about yourself through what you create," she said."It allows you to release feelings and emotions, and you grow through that."Griffith says she has learned much about herself by making art.Her ceramics pieces often take the form of people or animals, perhaps not surprising when you consider she bred and showed Dobermans for 18 years.She also raised her own house-trained raccoon named "Rascal" for 14 years.Being a 50-something person surrounded by 20-something fellow students has had its ups and downs, she said."It's lonely, because I'm not really part of their age group," she said, "but I've learned so much from these young people."She quoted a great aunt who used to tell her, "Our bodies may get old, but our minds are young.
Honorable Mentions were given to four student artists, including Steve Wagner, Cuyahoga Community College for digital ink photographs titled, An American Family, Four Generations; Connie Griffith, Johnson County Community College for a ceramic - terra cotta, The Two Sis's; Liesl Schindler, San Diego Community College District (Mesa College) for a black & white photograph titled, Spam Visits the Hotel Del; and Kristin H. Durham, St. Louis Community College at Meramec for a silver gelatin print titled Clydesdale Park.
Connie Griffith Photo/Video Award, Kansas City Art Institute, Missouri
Connie Griffith Memorial Photography AwardKansas City Art Institute
Connie Griffith Photo/Video Award, Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, MO